I’m sitting on a filthy curb of a strip mall. Scabs line my face. The crooks of my arms are swollen with sores. Fear and sadness burn in my chest in equal measure. I can’t think about anything anymore unless it involves eliminating my thinking with heroin. Black, disgusting, chemical laden heroin that smells bitter and ruins me further in body and spirit with every dose – but that delivers me from myself, if only for a little while. It’s the only thing that matters.

I sit, listless, destitute. Simply existing in pain as the drugs wear off. Smoking. Staring into the middle distance of the nothingness that has become my life.

I lazily notice a man looking in my general direction from the parking lot amidst my stupor. As I meet his gaze he turns in my direction and begins casually approaching me. He’s wearing clean clothes. Nice shoes. His hair is neatly trimmed – face framed by thick rimmed glasses. Sandy blonde hair. 5 o’clock shadow that seems permanent. The outline of his visage feels remarkably familiar but, in my haze, I’m failing to place him. He’s standing over me now. I shield my eyes from the sun as I look up, his hand reaching down to lift me up to my feet. I reluctantly embrace his palm with mine, heave myself upwards with his help, and find myself face to face with…myself. I’m flabbergasted. It’s me, but different.

“Hey Sean,” he says.


“I understand this is strange.”


“Listen, we don’t have much time.”

“How…what is happening?” My mind is suddenly clear, the insanity, the disbelief washing over me, sobering me.

“I’m you. Or a version of you. A vision if you will. Of a future that could come to pass for you. Also, I’m struggling to come up with an idea for a blog post I’m supposed to be writing. That’s something you do in the future by the way – you write things. You write them diligently and try to be hopeful and helpful and interesting and entertaining – even when you don’t think they are any good,” he explains.

“I still don’t understand – I’m so lost.”

“I know you’re feeling lost. I know you’re broken. I know you’re struggling to pick up the shattered pieces of your life as they fall everywhere and slip through your fingers no matter what you do. I know you hate yourself. I know you ruminate and perseverate endlessly, your mind looping in circles of negativity, your only solution is to numb the pain with drugs. Anything to escape yourself – I know and understand that pain.

“How…how is this even possible? How am I…speaking with myself? This is impossible. This isn’t happening.”

“Anything is possible when you use your imagination. But what’s important is this message I have for you – your future self. If you trust, have faith, and believe. If you use your imagination.


“Listen, your life has purpose. It has meaning. It doesn’t have to end here. You don’t have to be a footnote in the annals of history – a statistic, a life lost to disease, mental illness, or sickness. It can be more. You can be more than the person you are right now – in rags, wounded, obliterated by heroin. Smoking cigarettes mired in self-pity, selfish thinking, anxiety and depression. You only think of yourself. You have to find a way to get on the other side of that.”

“I’m listening,” still in disbelief, but what else am I going to do? I have nowhere else to be and if anything, this would make for an interesting story I could potentially write someday.

“It’s going to be hard. You’re not going to do this thing perfectly, ever. And that’s ok. You’re going to strive for it anyway. You’re going to push. God is going to surround you with people who love you, who encourage you, and who make you a better person. People who will fully understand you – who get you. Who’ve been where you’ve been – walked where you’ve walked. And have come out on the other side. Made better. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. You see Sean, we’re on a mission from God.”

“…you’re…I’m…quoting the Blues Brothers?”

“Never mind that – what I speak to you is unequivocal truth. God is going to give you every opportunity to get better and move past this and I’m imploring you to forget what you think you know about yourself, about life, and to embrace the fantastical, the impossible. The spirit of life itself. It is in giving. It is in carrying a message of hope. It is in accepting yourself for who you are, faults and strengths alike, and simply attempting the best you can to give it away and be helpful to others in any way shape or form. That is the mission. The journey. Even when you fall. Even when you fail. It’s not always going to feel fair and even when you recover, you’ll still have struggles. But along the way you’ll learn. You’ll grow. You’ll understand what it means to be free, and you’ll forget and you’ll return again to the basics of this entire deal – that your freedom is contingent upon your self-care and your ability to remain humble, and a servant to the broken, the downtrodden, the beaten, and the forgotten. I’d tell you not to forget this, but it won’t matter because you will. Because you’re imperfect. But that’s ok. You weren’t meant to be perfect. You’re just meant to be you. In all your glorious imperfection. Many blessings will be visited upon your life should you take this path.”

“…ok but…how do I even begin? Nothing I do works. I’m useless, fraught with neurosis and self-loathing. I literally hate myself every day of my life and I can’t make anything work…where do I go?”

“Put one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. Moment by moment. Second by second. Go back to the program. Listen to your people. Let them guide you. Breathe. Always remember to breathe. Learn. Take suggestions. Accept that you are wrong about things, and will continue to be so, and remain teachable. Use your imagination. You have survived every obstacle life has thrown at you up until this point and you can survive this one too. I love you. There is nothing you can ever do that would make me not love you, and I’m going to try and remember, and hold onto this too. I have to go now. Holdfast to these truths I’ve spoken to you. Don’t give in. Also, keep that wicked sense of humor about you, it’ll come in handy, trust me.

And with a wisp, I (or a version of me) was gone. I stare blankly into the hot summer air, incredulity enveloping my being. My gaze averted to the sidewalk; I take heavy steps on warm concrete towards the halfway house. A presence, a spirit guiding me home.

God bless,

Sean –  In recovery